Even though there are fewer veterans now than a decade ago, the government is paying nearly three times as much in disability payments as it did then, according to a budget analysis that says the war on terrorism has left troops more severely injured than previous conflicts did.
Annual disability spending has jumped from $20 billion in 2000 to $54 billion last year, the Congressional Budget Office said in its analysis last week that showed a complex web of factors.
“Growth in spending for veterans’ disability compensation since 2000 has been driven by large increases both in the number of veterans receiving payments and in the average amounts of those payments, which in turn have been influenced by policy changes at VA, the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and conditions in the labor market,” the CBO said.
One major difference is the level of injuries sustained by veterans. Those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who receive a disability check have an average of 5.4 injuries, compared with 3.6 per Vietnam veteran and 2.4 for veterans of World War II and Korea.